Over the past few decades the number of students who walk and bike to school has dropped significantly. It’s sad news, particularly for students who get little physical activity and are in danger of chronic diseases that go along with a lack of exercise.
To help address this problem, many thousands of schools across the country and world celebrate Walk to School Day on Wednesday, Oct. 7.
Walk to School Day is important because it gives schools a day to unite on the importance of walking and biking to school, and a day to focus on the urgent need to improve walking and biking conditions in our communities.
It gives parents, school staff and students a great opportunity to start thinking about and addressing common barriers that keep kids from walking and biking to school — like incomplete crosswalks and sidewalks, heavy traffic, distance from home to school and a variety of other issues.
Walk to School Day events include everything from handing out flyers to parents about the benefits of walking and biking to implementing a Walking School Bus.
More than half of the events are part of ongoing programming that promotes walking and biking to school every day.
Even if walking and biking to or from school isn’t possible, there are still ways to participate. Many schools hold events indoors during the school day due to barriers that entirely prohibit students from walking to school like violence or distance.
Want to plan an event but not sure if you have time or where to begin? The National Center for Safe Routes to School has a fantastic website devoted to Walk to School Day and Bike to School Day, which takes place in May.
This website is a great resource for those who want to learn more about how to use Walk to School Day as a way to promote walking to school and showcase how easy it can be in their community.
The site lists over 50 event ideas to get you started — anything from flier distribution at school to presenting walk/bike data from your school to your city council.
Be sure to register your event on the National Center’s website. Who knows, maybe there is an event already planned in your area! Remember, keep it manageable. There is no shame starting out small!
Use the hashtag #SafeRoutesIL to share photos on Wednesday, October 7. And there's another way you can help: Tell Active Trans about how kids in your neighborhood walk and bike to school.